After climbing more than 5,500 steps to the peak (with an accrued ascent of more than 1,000 metres over a distance of seven kilometres) we had another element to brave – the bitterly cold wind. This was the test we had to endure, no pain, no gain – the low before the high, floating in a sea of candy floss clouds, and the sunrise at Adam’s Peak.
I expected jelly legs by the end of it all, but was surprisingly spared any ambulatory pain.
I was surprised at how very little I had perspired on the climb, but nearing the summit and when we actually planted our feet on the final step the wind was so uncomfortably icy that I put pants over my shorts and wrapped myself in my pashmina scarf.
The space surrounding the temple is a foundation of marble and it is in this holy space that one must remove their shoes, as a mark of respect. The coldness of the ground did not add to our comfort.
At this time, it was around 05:00 in the morning and the sun was not due to rise for another 30-45 minutes. We made our way around the temple in circumabulation, around to the entrance to view the footprint that we climbed so high to see.
It is said that the footprint is 1.8m long – making the owner of the footprint more than 30 foot tall.
At the door, a fellow pilgrim handed us some flowers that we would lay at the footprint. We walked through and (SPOILER ALERT) the footprint was completely covered with holy cloths. I did not cast my eyes on the sacred imprint.
It is said that the footprint is 1.8m long – making the owner of the footprint more than 30 foot tall. Apparently in Islam, it is taught that Adam was a man of very high stature (a giant, you could say).
If the size of the footprint is anything to go by, then the tooth housed at the Temple of the Tooth is about the right size. The tooth, said to belong to the Buddha, is around eight inches long!
I heard a man ring the bell 16 times.
A bell sound could be heard as we climbed the mountain – an infrequent and almost random ringing. Here at the top we discovered the source and the reason – pilgrims ring the bell to indicate the completion of the current climb and to indicate the number of times that one has completed the climb (and worshipped at the temple).
I rang the bell only once. Others rang the bell two or three times. I heard a man ring the bell 16 times. And heard a story of a woman of 90 years old having climbed the mountain more than 80 times!
The sun slowly began to rise and allowed some light to touch the sea of clouds that surrounded this lofty place of worship. All around me was fluffy and fluid clouds of candy floss, dashed with hues of sweet rosey pink, tangy marmalade oranges and sweet milk and honey. All of this was washed against the brilliant azure of blue marking the divide between Earthly and Heavenly.
We were fortunate to have picked such an auspicious day to climb – it was the celebration of Vesak, coinciding with the first full moon of May AND the birthday of the Buddha. A beautiful ceremony with music and prayer was held as the sun continued to wake.
The cacophony of pilgrims in prayer, astonished tourists and travellers, and bells being struck was a treat for the auditory senses.
After a few selfies, mountain top, we began the descent – I expected jelly legs by the end of it all, but was surprisingly spared any ambulatory pain.
Here’s the peak during the daylight – clouds wafting near the summit.